When Jorge Posada left the game on May 4 after grabbing his hamstring, it looked like the Yanks were in trouble. They’d just dropped their fourth straight contest to the Red Sox and were sitting at just 13-12. With Alex Rodriguez already out of the lineup, the Yanks could ill-afford to lose Jorge. Yet that was the result. He’d strained his hamstring and would have to spend at least two weeks — perhaps longer — on the disabled list. Things were not looking good.
The outlook did not improve over the next three days, as the Yanks dropped yet another to the Sox before losing two straight to the Rays. The team had lost five straight and all three without their starting catcher. Fortunately, Alex Rodriguez returned the next day and the Yanks started to pick up some games. Even counting the three losses prior to A-Rod’s return, the Yankees went 14-8 in Jorge’s absence.
Excitement percolated when he returned to the lineup on May 29. The lineup wasn’t quite complete — Melky Cabrera was sitting out after hurting his shoulder in Texas, but he’d ben slumping anyway and Brett Gardner was starting to come on. Adding Posada’s bat figured to be huge. He was, after all, hitting .312/.402/.584 at the time. That’s middle of the order production, and the Yanks were already getting monster contributions from their mid-order bats, A-Rod and Mark Teixeira.
For the first week and a half of Jorge’s return, things went swimmingly. They went 7-3 and had lost by two runs twice and one run once. Jorge wasn’t quite his old self — he was 9 for 34 in that span, with a double, three homers, and three walks — but he was still hitting with power. Plus, the team was winning. So nothing to complain about, right? At the time, not so much. Lately, though, Jorge has not been Jorge.
From the start of the Boston series on June 9 through last night, Jorge has gone 7 for 36 with one double, one homer, and five walks: .194/.293/.306. In other words, he’s been a big part of the Yanks offensive woes of late. That’s a shame, of course, because he potentially adds so much. If he’s going right he can hit fifth, right behind A-Rod, and create one mean 3-4-5 combo.
The good news is that Jorge won’t carry a .499 OPS through the rest of the season. He’ll come out of this funk, like all good hitters do. I know there hasn’t been much to hang our hats on lately, but if we can reach for one thing, it’s that the offense is just bound to turn it around. Hitters this good don’t fall off a cliff mid-season and stay there.
For more on Posada, I urge you to check out Mark Feinsand’s article on him from today’s Daily News. He also has some additional Q&A on his blog.